Tell Texas House: Vote YES for cell phone privacy!

You may not remember where you were last Monday at noon, but your cell phone does. And so does your local police department if they ask for it from your cell phone company. Location data creates a virtual diary of your whole life, and most people expect that diary to be private.

But police can get that information without probable cause and by paying a fee to the cell phone company. You won't even know they did it. Texas laws protecting your privacy were crafted in the 1980s, before cell phones, before smart phones, before the Internet. Proposals by Rep. Bryan Hughes and Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa would update those laws to finally require police to have probable cause before they download the locational "diary of your life" from your cell phone company.

The proposal has more than 100 co-authors from both parties but police agencies are pulling out every weapon in their arsenal to stop it. Tell your Representative to vote YES!

Dear Representative,

Please vote YES for cell phone privacy when this proposal comes to the House floor. There's little time remaining in the session and this good bill should pass.

A proposal by Rep. Bryan Hughes to require a probable cause warrant for cell phone location data has four joint authors and 103 coauthors from both parties because we all have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the detailed location data held by our cell phone companies.

Current law was crafted in the 1980s before the invention of the Web, let alone the invention of smart phones. Today, my cell phone carrier probably knows more about me than I do, and keeps that data for long periods. Police can and do routinely ask for that information. Until conservative Texas Magistrate Judges started to say "No" to DOJ requests, very little information was available to the public about this problem.

Now we know that different agencies get location data under different standards (in testimony, one agency reported getting it with a simple subpoena, while others said they got an "order" under a "material and relevant" standard.) I want the locational "diary of my life" protected by the 4th Amendment's "probable cause" standard. If my daily diary were on paper and kept in a filing cabinet in my house, the police would need "probable cause" to read it. That's what I expect for my digital diary, regardless of where it is stored.

Your constituent. 

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